The UN Refugee Agency Reports Thousands Of Refugees Fleeing From Ethiopia’s Tigray Region To Eastern Sudan

According to a report released on Tuesday November 17th by the UN Refugee Agency, thousands of refugees from Ethiopia were fleeing to eastern Sudan to escape the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. This ongoing fighting has erupted a “full-scale humanitarian crisis” in the region and the citizens put in danger are frantically searching for safety. Reported on Tuesday, more than 27,000 Ethiopian citizens have now crossed the border into Sudan and the United Nations (UN) is extremely concerned, as this is the worst they have seen in 20 years. Babar Baloch, a UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson announced in Geneva that he was concerned about the overwhelming pressure put on the humanitarian crisis response team in the area as 4,000 people a day continue to cross the border. “Refugees fleeing the fighting continue to arrive exhausted from the long trek to safety, with few belongings,” Baloch also added. The strain on the people and the services in the area is growing exponentially.

As more and more Ethiopian citizens flee the Tigray area, the needs of the people grow. UN agencies have been forced to ramp up their aid by delivering more food, supplying clean drinking water, and shelter options for these people and are offering support to the Sudanese government. The UN has also issued an emergency fundraising appeal as the situation continues to worsen and lifesaving assistance is needed. In the Tigray region, the conflict that continues to proceed has effectively removed contact and reach for the UN to those in need in that region. This is due to the lack of electricity, telecommunication and fuel available for the region due to the ongoing conflicts. The UN is on standby to offer assistance to any one displaced from the region into other “safer” areas of Ethiopia at the time being. 

“Potential for further displacement of refugees inside the country is increasingly a real possibility … The humanitarian situation as a result of this crisis is growing rapidly” says Baloch and they need more aid to effectively help these people. Although it is important to recognize that these people need assistance now, it is also important to reflect on the already existing poverty in the region before the conflicts erupted. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said that “even before the current hostilities, nearly a million people in Tigray, and millions more who live in close proximity to its regional and national boundaries were already in need of assistance.” Humanitarian assistance in the region is needed more than ever and Mr. Lowcock explains that they have been working with the Ethiopian government to get “immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access.” It is important that the global community take this conflict seriously and turn their attention to this situation beyond the conflict. People have been suffering before this conflict and will suffer even more after if they don’t get the help they need from the international community.

Sophia Seemann